Whale curry

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Whale curry

October 12, 2009 - 22:50
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A Japanese company has said it would start offering whale curry in its takeaway business lunches, as the country pursues its controversial whale hunt in the Antarctic.

Asian Lunch, which says it sells 1,000-1,500 lunch boxes daily in Tokyo's business districts, will offer the meat once a week, starting Thursday with a South Asian-style keema curry. "I hope many young women will want to have it as it's healthy with high protein and low fat. It's also rich in iron," company spokeswoman Yuka Yamaguchi said. The firm is also hoping to attract young men who have never tasted the meat before, she said, adding that 600 servings had been prepared for its debut at a cost of 650 to 700 yen (6 to 6.5 dollars).

This month Japan infuriated its Western allies, particularly Australia and New Zealand, when it launched its annual whale hunt -- which for the first time will also kill humpbacked whales. Most Japanese do not eat a lot of whale, proof to critics that the hunt is unnecessary. But the government is trying to promote the meat, which is now served mostly in specialist restaurants. Asian Lunch decided to introduce whale after being approached by Whale Labo, a seller set up last year with the backing of the government's Fisheries Agency, Yamaguchi said.

We would feel uncomfortable if we hunted whales by ourselves for the purpose of eating them

"There is no illegality about the meat as it comes from the government's research whaling. We also wanted to try out a new food material," she said. As for protests against Japan's whaling, Yamaguchi said the company just "does not want to waste meat once their lives were deprived of for research." "We would feel uncomfortable if we hunted whales by ourselves for the purpose of eating them," she said.

Japan catches whales using a loophole in the 1986 global moratorium that allows "lethal research" on the giant mammals. Environmentalists charge it is simply commercial whaling in disguise. As Japan expands the whale catch, the wholesale price of meat has dropped to around 2,000 yen per kilo (2.2 pounds), compared with a peak of nearly 4,000 yen in 1996, according to official data.